Many organic compounds contain atoms arranged in aromatic or 'ring' structures, which often confer stability. Now Masaichi Saito at Saitama University in Japan and his colleagues have slipped lead into a ring of carbon atoms without disrupting its stable structure.
Aromatic compounds are stabilized when the electrons in atomic orbitals are shared across the rings in a particular way to form bonds with unusual properties. Incorporating other atoms into these structures while maintaining these properties has proved difficult.
The researchers made a lead-containing analogue of an aromatic five-membered ring — the cyclopentadienyl anion — and used it to create a dilithioplumbole, another aromatic five-membered ring molecule. They say this could lead to new catalysts and materials.
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Chemistry: Plumbing carbon rings. Nature 464, 1106–1107 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/4641106f